If I Were the Devil –The Rest of the Story
First we had C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters in 1942, a classic apologetic novel written from the perspective of a senior tempter in the service of “Our Father Below,” offering sagely advice to his nephew, Wormwood. Then we had Paul Harvey and his well-known “If I Were the Devil” audio piece from 1965.
Now, as we enter the third decade of the 21st Century and are hot on the heels of one of the most unexpected, bizarre years in anyone’s memory, I offer a new twist…
If I were the devil, I know what avenue I would use to gain footholds into Americans’ lives. I would continue propping up and contributing to the rise of mythical boogeymen across the planet—not because these boogeymen are actually a threat to national security, but because they serve as excellent distractions. As James Madison so presciently wrote to Thomas Jefferson in 1798, “Perhaps it is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to provisions against danger real or pretended from abroad.”
If I were the devil, my main pursuit would be raw power, an ever-increasing power. Since an in-your-face, naked appeal to such power is still bound to be resisted, it is with the subtlety of the serpent I will operate, utilizing an incremental process. A power grab must be disguised as something else, and, most successfully, that has been an appeal to “safety.” It only makes sense that my main instrument would be the very thing most Americans lean on for protection and guidance — their own government.
Recall, I know the Scriptures as well as any angel or anyone else. It was through misusing the Scriptures that I tempted Christ Himself. He was too crafty for me, but His creation is, for the most part, a very gullible group. And both the Old and New Testaments teach me that the number-one institution used throughout the ages to oppress people and foster evil has been wicked governments, often their own.
What cannot be forgotten is that no amount of misery can be overlooked as an opportunity to capitalize on peoples’ fears. The key is to select something real but then expound upon it — enlarge it into something much greater than it really is. The power of the purse can be overcome by the fear of sickness. The threat of sickness has massive potential for exploitation.
There is within mankind a natural tendency to associate with his fellow human beings. If I were the devil, I would use any potential for sickness to restrict this tendency. No man is an island, we have been told, but we can push him farther than what was imagined before. Let us hammer on the theme of a nationwide “pandemic” so that we can restrict travel and basic camaraderie. The more we can isolate individuals, the better we can perform acupuncture on their souls. Priority One in this strategy is restricting corporate worship among religious institutions.
But how to bring this about? If I were the devil, I definitely would use the most influential propaganda tool available to modern government — the mass media. We must use menacing and vastly enlarged images of the sickness and pummel them into peoples’ visions and brains on a constant basis via the 24-hour news cycle. Terrify people with guilty thoughts of dead relatives and denigrate any contrary views. Make anyone who objects to the party line out to be complete morons who disregard “science.”
There is nothing — absolutely nothing — more conducive to a power grab on a grand scale than fear. Even professing Christians, who would tell you they are persevering through this life in anticipation of the wonderful blessing of a perfect life eternal, will delude themselves by clinging to this earthly life with every fiber of their being. Sickness? Death (even when the chances are abysmal)? These people who fancy themselves tough and enduring will wilt and sacrifice their liberties and their own common sense if they can be led to believe we are acting for their “safety” and “general welfare.”
Pursestrings are powerful, but they pale in comparison to heartstrings. If we can convince just a few segments of society that their loved ones are befallen with this sickness, we shall have not just them, but their friends who know better. These friends may lack the direct line of emotional attachment necessary to blind them, but they will cease speaking out against the general overreaction and government abuse from fear they will upset their friends and seem insensitive.
If I were the devil, I would fan the flames of passion, suspicion, anger, and jealousy. We can even tug on the sentiment of sympathy, and make people with the slightest sniffle rush to get tested for this “deadly virus,” almost as if they want to test positive. We will inflate the numbers, we will overemphasize the effects, we will ramp up the fear, we will “diagnose” other diseases as this…all so that the “science” and “statistics” back up the claim. Perhaps, in some sense, we can make people forget about all the other ways to die.
Again, if I were the devil, I would move incrementally. At first, we will have our “leaders” trot out the line that this is all temporary. Yes, we are giving up basic liberties for “safety.” But it is only temporary, we reassure. I bet we could even convince people that what we bill as the deadliest virus of modern times can be curtailed by wearing a flimsy cloth “mask” over one’s face. Imagine the thought of being able to convince large segments of society to actually walk around with various forms of cloth covering their faces. Mandates and voluntary compliance will lure people of all shades under our spell.
Any form of democratic government has limitations on the exercise and extent of governmental power. If I were the devil, I would convince the populace “safety” demands “emergency situations” where those limitations can be set aside. Then we will gradually keep extending those “emergency powers” over and over until they are no longer questioned and we have, in effect, instituted a “new normal.”
The genie will be out of the bottle. There will be no looking back.